Are NYC Landlords Responsible for Pest Control?
Being a major city in the United States, NYC reported around 15% of rat infestations and 16% of roach infestations in 2015. This has made pest control a major concern for many tenants living in the city. If you plan to move to NYC or are already a long-term resident there, you should know whether your landlord is responsible for pest control.
In New York City, the landlord is responsible for keeping their tenants’ apartments free of pests and mold and fixing all conditions that might cause these problems. This is according to Local Law 55 of 2018.
So, as a tenant in NYC, you have a right to a habitable and hazard-free home, but you also have a part to play in keeping your space clean and pest-free. Let’s learn more about the landlord’s responsibilities in NYC.
According to NYC Local Law 55 of 2015, property owners or landlords of buildings with three or more apartments are responsible for pest control. The landlord can be liable for a Class C violation if mold, rats, mice, and roaches are spotted in the tenant’s apartment and common area.
Here is the landlord’s list of responsibilities according to NYC state laws:
- Perform inspections yearly to check for indoor allergens such as rats, mice, roaches, and mold in the tenants’ units.
- Respond to tenants’ complaints or any complaints received from HPD.
- Make sure all vacant units are cleaned thoroughly to ensure they are pest-free and mold-free before new tenants move in.
- Provide new tenants with the Local Law of 2018 fact sheet and a notice entailing the landlord’s responsibilities regarding pest control.
- Use the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) protocols to remediate the infestation.
IPMs are environmentally friendly strategies that focus on the long-term prevention of pests. In NYC, IPMs include:
- Use a HEPA vacuum to eliminate all pet waste, nests, and other debris.
- Identify and eliminate all points of entry for pests by sealing holes, gaps, and cracks on walls and floors and doing all necessary repairs.
- Fix water leaks to prevent the accumulation of water that can attract pests.
- Attaching right-sized door sweeps to all entrances that lead to basements, hallways, and the outside.
- Use minimum amounts of pesticides. The application of pesticides should only be made by pest control experts licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
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Are NYC landlords responsible for bed bug inspection and treatment?
Yes. NYC landlords are responsible for the inspection and treatment of bed bug infestations in tenants’ apartments. The Health and Housing Maintenance Codes require building owners to handle bedbug infestations promptly.
Once the tenants report a bed bug infestation, the landlords should hire licensed pest control experts to handle the infestation.
NYC’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development classifies bed bugs as a Class B violation (hazardous), and landlords have 30 days to correct this violation.
Do tenants have any responsibilities regarding pest control?
Yes, tenants also have a big part to play in managing and controlling pests in their apartments. Their responsibilities include:
- Immediately notify their landlords once they observe leaks and signs of pests and mold in their apartments.
- Keeping their units clean and dry.
- Use sealed containers to store food.
- Keep their counters and sinks clean and dry, and ensure there is no clutter.
- Make sure their dustbins have tight-fitting lids and take out the garbage every day.
- Avoid applying pesticides or chemicals with strong scents.
How should landlords handle pest infestations in NYC?
NYC landlords must take care of pest infestations as they can cause issues such as fines, lawsuits, health risks, and property damages. Below are tips landlords can use to tackle pest problems in rental properties.
Address tenants’ complaints promptly
This will prevent the building from further damage and protect the tenants from allergies and diseases caused by pests. Also, tenants will feel happy and satisfied when landlords acknowledge and address their complaints. They might even renew their leases, which is good for property owners and managers.
Talk to all tenants
It is important to talk to all the tenants, especially if it is a residential building. This way, the landlord can determine how large the infestation is and come up with the best strategies to handle the problem.
Identify the type of pest and its source
Once the landlord confirms that indeed there is a pest infestation in the tenant’s apartment, they should try to identify the type of pest before calling in exterminators.
Hire a pest control company
The landlord should hire pest control professionals to tackle the infestation. The experts are knowledgeable and skilled in handling all kinds of infestations, from small to large. They also have the right products for different pests. The landlord should also practice IPM to keep the building and the tenants safe.
Pest control tips for NYC landlords
Since landlords are responsible for pest control in rental properties, they should find preventive measures to keep the pests at bay. Here are a few things landlords can do to control pests in their tenants’ apartments.
- Schedule regular pest inspections and exterminations. This will keep the pests at bay and prevent small infestations from progressing into larger-scale problems.
- Block all possible entry points for mice, rats, roaches, and other insects.
- Make sure there are enough garbage bins on the property. The bins should be securely sealed and placed far away from buildings to prevent pests from gaining entry into homes.
- Ensure the buildings and common areas are clean at all times to create a less attractive environment for pests.
- Educate tenants on the importance of proper garbage disposal and keeping their homes dry and clean.
Can NYC landlords DIY pest control, or are they required to call licensed professionals
The Environmental Conservation Law requires only certified commercial applicators to apply pesticides to residential units or apartments. This means landlords must hire pest control professionals licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to use pesticides in the tenant’s apartment.
However, the landlord can try to eliminate the pests on their own using Integrated Pest Management Practices as long as pesticides are not used. IPMs, such as repairing and sealing holes and cracks in walls and floors, fixing water leaks, and eliminating water and food sources, serve as preventive measures for pests. Landlords can use these methods as long as they follow safety protocols.
How often should NYC landlords perform pest inspections and control?
Annually. In NYC, the average apartment lease length is one year, which means landlords may have to wait for the tenants to move out before performing pest inspections and exterminations. For longer leases, the landlords must provide the tenants with reasonable notice of their right to access the apartment to inspect and perform exterminations.
What can NYC tenants do if their landlords do not fulfill their pest control obligations?
Once you spot pests or mold in your home, you must immediately notify your landlord through a demand letter and give them ample time to handle the infestation.
If your property manager, owner, or landlord refuses to fulfill their pest control obligations, you can file a complaint against them online or contact 311.
Once HPD receives the complaint, the landlord will be fined for not following state law. If you sue the landlord, you can do the following during the case.
- Withhold your rent until the tenant resolves the pest problems.
- Use the “repair and deduct” approach (hire exterminators and deduct the costs from your next month’s rent).
- Break your lease.
When filing a complaint, seek advice from a legal expert. Also, ensure you have documentation of everything, including your demand letter, your landlord’s response, photos of damages caused by the infestation, and any out-of-pocket costs you have incurred since the infestation began.
NYC state laws require landlords to provide tenants with clean, safe, and habitable spaces free of pests and mold. Therefore, landlords should practice IPM and, when necessary, hire pest control experts to eliminate an infestation.
After you file a complaint and HPD confirms that you have a pest infestation in your apartment, HPD will formally ask the landlord to correct the violation.
The landlord is usually given 90 days for pests that are non-hazardous, 30 days for hazardous pests like bed bugs, and 21 days for mice, rats, and roach infestations.
Your landlord must do everything in your tenancy agreement. Besides pest control, landlords are responsible for handling repairs in the interior and exterior of your home and generally keep the structure in good shape.